His face graciously adorns the ten naira note but only few Nigerians know this. Let us take a look at the life of this great man and what could have warranted the honour given him on one of our nation’s currencies.
1. Alvan Azinna Ikoku is the man on the 10 naira note. He was born on 1st August, 1900 to a rich merchant family in the tiny town of Amanagwu, Arochukwu, Abia State, he remains one of Nigeria’s finest educationists. Dr Ikoku was also an activist, nationalist, politician and undoubtedly, a statesman.
2. Although he was an Igbo man from Arochukwu, his mother was an Efik woman from Calabar where he schooled at the Hope Waddell Training Institution.
3. His wife was also an Efik woman from Calabar and an exceptional organist too.
4. Alvan Ikoku and his son, Samuel Goomsu Ikoku (1922—1997), were political enemies. Samuel won an election against his father at the Eastern Regional Assembly elections in 1956.
5. As an educationist, he established Aggrey Memorial College, Arochukwu, Abia State in 1931. Ikoku named the college after a Ghanaian teacher and missionary, James E.K Aggrey.
6. At Aggrey, he introduced Carpentry as a subject, which he called ”the Education of the Hand.” Interestingly, students were able to make their own desks, chairs, and tables all by themselves.
7. In 1955, as National President of the Nigerian Union of Teachers, NUT, Ikoku was at the forefront of championing the causes of the teachers and also criticized the educational system at the time for failing to teach indigenous languages.
8. Ikoku was a recipient of the Order of the British Empire (OBE). His contemporaries accused him of too pro-British.
9. A practising Protestant, Alvan Azinna Ikoku died on the 18th November, 1971 at the Aba General Hospital, Aba, Abia State. He was 71.
10. Many monuments and places are named after him. Chief among them is the Alvan Ikoku Federal College of Education, Owerri, Imo State, which was the first school to establish a full-fledged Igbo Language Department in Nigeria in 1975.